Commuting in India’s capital city of Mumbai can be a downright harrowing experience. The streets are notoriously crowded, and public transit is famously unreliable. Bus schedules are unpredictable and the buses themselves are often packed to the brim with uncomfortable passengers. Commute times can vary wildly, and it sometimes takes passengers hours to get to work.
Jerin Venad is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology who was tired of spending two hours getting to and from his job at Ernst & Young in Mumbai. After kicking around ideas with a few of his former college classmates, Venad created Cityflo – a service that allows people to reserve spots on privately run buses via a smartphone app. The buses follow many of the most popular public bus routes in the city.
To book a ride, all people have to do is select a route and then pay their faire with a digital wallet. Once the reservation is confirmed, Cityflo will text riders with details on the status of their bus. Cityflo’s buses have only been operating for a little over two months, but they’re already receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from their riders.
The response has been so good, in fact, that Cityflo just received an additional $733,000 in seed funding from venture capital firm IDG Ventures. Venad and his team plan on using the money to increase the number of routes in Mumbai and expand their service to other cities in India as well. The success of Cityflo has been so impressive that we wouldn’t be surprised to see other similar services crop up here at home as well.
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